Young guns step up
By STEVE ARCHBOLD
COFFSHarbour baseball is at the crossroads as they try to drag themselves out of a competition which is slowly dying.
As Dodgers and Woolgoolga Bluesox prepare to contest the A grade grand final at Richardson Park tomorrow the sport needs to address a flagging interest.
Bluesox coach John Perrett said the collapse of the Royals club before the start of the season left only three clubs who spent most of the year contesting a combined A and B grade competition.
"We only split back to A and B grade for the final few rounds and there were only three teams in each of the finals," Perrett said.
"Baseball really needs an injection of new faces, the quality is pretty good but we are really suffering for numbers this year."
Perrett said the pressure was firmly on the shoulders of the Dodgers line-up who really wanted the win bad and he was happy for his side to go in as underdogs.
"Dodgers have many of the players who left Royals when the club folded and they have also brought players in from outside the area," he said.
"We are going to enjoy ourselves and winning will be a bonus."
Perrett explained that only five of his side were genuine A graders and the club has had to battle through the season bringing up players from B grade to fill the void after Bluesox lost more than half the line-up which has carried them to the past three premierships.
"The loss of guys like Jeff Butterworth, Spencer Day and Lee Kennedy has really been a blow to the club this year but we have kept recruiting to within our own club," he said.
Dodgers coach Rob Phillips said the grand final would be a classic battle of youth against experience.
"Players like Ian Hooper, Nelson Phillips and Cale Bainbridge have been playing baseball in Coffs Harbour since the age of six and with State experience are some of the rising stars of Coffs Harbour baseball," he said.
"In comparison, Bluesox have a team of hardened veterans headed by former State player Rod Koopmans who will have the edge on us in experience."
Both coaches agree the pressure will be on the pitching line-ups especially toward the end of the game when the main pitchers have left the mound.
Phillips conceded Bluesox had a stronger line-up with the bat as they could rely on more depth.
"I see this grand final as being a changing of the guard in Coffs Harbour baseball, it is just a matter of the youngsters bringing it home," he said.
DODGERS: Ian Hooper, Ian Whitelaw, Rob Phillips, Nelson Phillips, Cale Bainbridge, Andrew Dodds, Aaron Bryant-Smith, David Cowie, Joshua Siebert.
BLUESOX: Rod Koopmans, Bill Jurotte, Michael Perrett, Kirk Mavin, George Corbett, Michael Huggs, Andrew Naidu, John Stubbs, Lee Kennedy.